-Something of Everything

An enclave of a kind in Jhamsikhel goes by the name of Chai Chai. A small yet complete setting – an outdoor sitting area, indoor no-smoking family dining space, a petite gallery in an old house and a segregated bar above the gallery – Chai Chai specializes in Oriental cuisine with heavy influences from the Southeast Asian region, as evident in the dominance of chicken, seafood and coconuts in the menu.    

5 Ws

Where’s it located?
Jawalakhel – the menu reads
What to wear?
I don’t recommend a code
Why drop in?
Art, drinks and oriental cuisine
When to visit?
Lazed afternoons and early
How much to carry?
Three thousand for two with

The starter menu has a lot of non-veggie and quite a few veggie relishes (as does the menu all in all). On top of the menu and my preference are the spring rolls. The Vietnamese Spring Rolls are light and crisp. Stuffed inside translucent rice paper, the crunchy lettuce, carrots, peppers and chicken or prawn are tossed in a zesty peppy sauce. The accompanying dip has a pleasurable spicy hint to it.

The Coco Chicken is as appealing to the taste buds as it is to the eyes. Juicy bites of chicken covered in a crunchy batter with finely chopped fresh coconuts – what the dish derives its name from – mixed together with shallots, dried red chilies, diced peppers, carrots, onions and done with a dose of crushed black peppers brings tears to the eyes – dramatic I know, literally I mean. I therefore prefer a plate of Crispy Potatoes by my side. The wedges too are done in a sparsely spiced slightly tinted batter. I like the batter for another reason altogether – it insulates the potatoes from contact with the oil hence actually cooking the potatoes through transfer of heat – therefore the potatoes crumble when bitten, as if they were cooked in dry heat.

Soupy encounters for wintery affairs are incomplete without an intervention from the service staff because they are the ones to let you in on the Soup of the Day. There’re some real whimsical stuffs on offer but I like to go with the regular Chicken Soup served with Garlic Bread. The soup smells good but at times, disappointingly the chicken is overcooked and the soup derives from plain water rather than the stock.

The Vineyard Chicken is an excellent preference for main course for its succulent texture and filling nature. The utterly tender breast is creatively stuffed with cheese and herbs, the flavor of the game is preserved and the reduction sauce is heady. Served with a potato mash and teamed greens, it is just brilliant. Pizzas anyone? The crust is thin and crisp, the topping light, the herbs aromatic and the sauce lifting.  

My Verdict
I don’t measure the success of a business in terms of longevity alone. Novelty may be a feature in short term but a challenge in long term. Evolution is therefore a requisite and not an option. It is a gradual process, consistency its first step. Educating the service staff is one of those first steps. A Wi-Fi router that only blinks can be an embarrassment and a repulsion for weekend visitors – its need is absolute unless you are fine dining. Menus evolve in kitchens, make sure the chefs have the space for that. People love a place and will continue to if it grows with their tastes. !

Furnishings   Canes with rough & finished wood – nice
Ambiencee   Love the lamp shades – creative
Cutlery   General and proper – expected
Service   Under-educated on the menu – acceptable enough
Restroom   Clean, green and spacious – pleasant
My rating   The food is seldom a disappointment